Monthly Archives: March 2016

What Elise Wrote-Jon Blake

I am researching a new novel set during the First World War, or as it was known at the time, the Great War. I came across this wonderful tribute to Jon Blake and thought I’d share it with you.


It is a poignant video that shows Jon, who has passed away, as he will always be remembered. Dustin is a wonderful son.








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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

There are ten copies of Castle of Dreams on Goodreads in a giveaway. The offer ends on 19th March, 2016 so still plenty of time to enter the competition. There is a link on the first page of my blog.

Good writing to all,

Cheers Elise

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What Elise Wrote-Joan Marsh


This is the fourth in my series of forgotten women.

Joan Marsh (July 10, 1913 – August 10, 2000), born Nancy Ann Rosher in Porterville, California, and briefly known as Dorothy D. Rosher, was an American film actress. Her father was Charles Rosher, an award-winning cinematographer and a favourite of Mary Pickford.

Promoted by her father, Dorothy Rosher, as she was billed, moved easily into child roles in several of Pickford’s silents.

Luckily for Joan she had a lovely voice and with the introduction of talkies she had no trouble making the transition from silent movies.

Married to and divorced from screenwriter Charles Belden, Marsh largely retired from the screen after her marriage to John D.W. Morrill in late 1943. Her last film was 1944’s ‘Follow the Leader.’


For many years Joan owned and operated a successful stationery business in Los Angeles, Paper Unlimited.

It is always good to read about an actress from any era who went on to have a happy and successful life after they finished working in movies or on the stage. Except for owning and running a bookshop a stationery shop in the 40’s would have been the next best thing and a lovely place to spend time.

Enjoy your day,





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What Elise Wrote-Publishing

I often thought about being published and I kept writing books: a memoir, three novels in the bottom drawer and a lost romance novel. Once a publisher would nurture a new author but would a publisher today take the time to nurture and guide a new author? And would a publisher take on an unknown author with no social media following that counts?  Would a publishing company be interested in one of my own interests: recycling!  I can say yes to all the above questions because it happened to me. My soon to be published novel Castle of Dreams was picked up through Allen & Allen’s innovative Friday Pitch (which is everyday now) in other words the slush pile which is a stack of unsolicited manuscripts that have been sent to a publishing company for consideration. I like the old-fashioned values of Allen & Unwin: curtesy, consideration, thoughtfullness, and yes the nurturing of a writer who will soon have her first novel published. I’ve read many comments about the ‘big five’ some complimentary others not so. Writers have to remember the publisher needs to make money to survive and publish books and if you sign the contract you have to accept what is in that contract. I signed away the movie rights and other rights with no hesitation, after all I’m not going to go to Hollywood to meet producers and tell them my novel would make the best film ever. I’m not mathematically inclined (although I do see the beauty and wonder of numbers) but it doesn’t take mathematical ability to work out how much Allen & Unwin have invested to get my work to publication. My editors were fabulous people, intelligent and forthright, who didn’t muck around when they needed to tell me something in the novel wasn’t working and while I wasn’t expected to change anything I didn’t agree with (and some things I didn’t and didn’t change) I respected the professionalism and experience they brought to editing my novel and I thought carefully about any comments. I went to one of my local book stores recently to buy a book and was told the Allen & Unwin rep had already been to their store! Castle of Dreams is on the booksellers order list. It will be published on 27th April of this year and I can feel the excitement building. So if I can help  make my book a success by doing some publicity and making Castle of Dreams a winner I will.

Good writing,

Cheers Elise




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What Elise Wrote-Vale Pat Conroy


Novelist Pat Conroy, who announced last month that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer, has died, according to a statement from his publisher. Conroy was 70.

He announced his diagnosis on Facebook almost three weeks ago, saying “I intend to fight it hard.”

Today’s statement from Todd Doughty, executive director of publicity at Doubleday included comments from Conroy’s wife and his longtime editor:

“Conroy passed away this evening at his home in Beaufort, S.C., surrounded by family and loved ones. ‘The water is wide and he has now passed over,’ said his wife, novelist Cassandra Conroy. Funeral arrangements are currently being made at this time.
” ‘Pat has been my beloved friend and author for 35 years, spanning his career from The Prince Of Tides to today,’ said his longtime editor and publisher, Nan A. Talese of Doubleday. ‘He will be cherished as one of America’s favorite and bestselling writers, and I will miss him terribly,’ Talese said.

Conroy wrote from his own experiences, as a child of a violent father. Like his Prince of Tides protagonist, Pat Conroy found grappled with his own conflicted sense of identity, particulary as a Southener.

“I’m a military brat. My father was a Marine Corps fighter pilot from Chicago, Ill. I did not live in Southern towns, I lived on bases. I was a Roman Catholic, which is the strangest thing you can be in the South. Not only that, I married a Jewish woman from Bensonhurst. So when people refer to me as a Southerner … I liked it because I never had a home. It was the first name that was ever associated with me that put me in a place.”

On Facebook recently he wrote:

“I celebrated my 70th birthday in October and realized that I’ve spent my whole writing life trying to find out who I am and I don’t believe I’ve even come close. It was in Beaufort in sight of a river’s sinuous turn, and the movements of its dolphin-proud tides that I began to discover myself and where my life began at fifteen.”

A friend of Conroy’s, political cartoonist Doug Marlette, died in a car accident in July 2007. Conroy and Joe Klein eulogized Marlette at the funeral. There were 10 eulogists in all, and Conroy called Marlette his best friend, and said: “The first person to cry, when he heard about Doug’s death, was God”. The same words could be said for Pat Conroy.

Conroy lived in Beaufort with wife Cassandra until his death. In 2007, he commented that she was a much happier writer than he was: “I’ll hear her cackle with laughter at some funny line she’s written. I’ve never cackled with laughter at a single line I’ve ever written. None of it has given me pleasure. She writes with pleasure and joy, and I sit there in gloom and darkness.”

I came to Pat’s writing late in life and have not read all his novels.  I’m sure when I do I will find gold in them.

The world has lost a gifted writer and a man of grace.

“To describe our growing up in the lowcountry of South Carolina,” his alter-ego narrator wrote in “The Prince of Tides,” “I would have to take you to the marsh on a spring day, flush the great blue heron from its silent occupation. Scatter marsh hens as we sink to our knees in mud, open you an oyster with a pocketknife and feed it to you from the shell and say, ‘There. That taste. That’s the taste of my childhood.’ I would say, ‘Breathe deeply,’ and you would breathe and remember that smell for the rest of your life, the bold, fecund aroma of the tidal marsh, exquisite and sensual, the smell of the South in heat, a smell like new milk, semen and spilled wine, all perfumed with seawater.”

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

Castle of Dreams will be released by Allen & Unwin on 27th April, 2016. It is a dual narrative story set in two different time periods.

I love to research but I do have a few tips.

I read primary sources like diaries, letters and newspaper reports (Trove is wonderful!). I read books written about and of the period I am researching. I google but online information can be inaccurate so be careful and check more than one source. I use my wonderful local library and inter-library loans for books I don’t necessarily want to keep on my bookshelf, and also, I always read bibliographies carefully in each book as they are a source of more information on the subject you are researching.

I talk to experts in the area I am writing about. I have a military friend who is also a writer of novels and as one period of Castle of Dreams was set in WW2 during the Pacific War I asked him many questions and most importantly I could rely on his answers.

I have read all Kate Morton’s books which I loved and note that she studied and earned a Licentiate in Speech and Drama from Trinity College London. I have often wondered if this the reason Kate can so immerse herself in the character she is writing about that I feel I am that person. It certainly makes for a page turning book. And Kate writes about the things and places I love: mystery, England, Cornwall, and history all sprinkled with a touch of magic.

Synopsis: Castle of Dreams

A ruined castle deep in the rainforest holds a secret that unites three generations of women: two sisters who find themselves in love with the same man as the Second World War rages and, decades later, a young woman determined to uncover the secrets in her grandmother’s hidden past.

Growing up together in a mysterious castle in northern Queensland, Rose and Vivien Blake are very close sisters. But during the Second World War their relationship becomes strained when they each fall in love with the same dashing but enigmatic American soldier.

Rose’s daughter, Linda, has long sensed a secret in her mother’s past, but Rose has always resisted Linda’s questions, preferring to focus on the present.

Years later Rose’s granddaughter, Stella, also becomes fascinated by the shroud of secrecy surrounding her grandmother’s life. Intent on unravelling the truth, she visits the now-ruined castle where Rose and Vivien grew up to see if she can find out more.

Captivating and compelling, Castle of Dreams is about love, secrets, lies – and the perils of delving into the past . . .

An Excerpt

“The taxi arrived at eleven. Vivien said goodnight to Mrs Sherman and Cecily and patted Mercury. It was only when William walked her out to the porch that she noticed his limp.

He looked down and caught her puzzled expression. ‘Fromelles,’ he said quietly. ‘I wear an artificial leg.’

The balmy night air brought the scent of roses and summer jasmine, tubs of gardenias gleamed in the moonlight, and she could hear water tinkling in a nearby fountain. William, shining a small torch before them on the path, escorted Vivien to the front gate and into the taxi as rain began to fall over the leafy suburb.”

Photos of the Castillo de Suenos aka (Paronella Park)

This is the natural pool under the falls where Vivien and Rose learnt to swim.


The concrete tables where Vivien and Rose would throw their towels before they had a swim.


This is the staircase leading from the castle to the pool.


And today you can get married in the rainforest at

Paronella Park!



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